I am delighted to be publishing this special topics issue on women and Anglo-American periodicals. The project had a slow, almost organic development, coming about not through a formal call for papers but rather through an accrual of submissions connected to this topic as well as through conversations with scholars I knew to be working in this area. Housed in the department that cohosts, with Brown University, the Modernist Journals Project, I have been aware for some time of the ways in which a focus on periodicals has almost entirely recast modernism, learning also about the complex questions that are introduced through efforts to examine these documents systematically as artifacts and objects of serious research. Noticing a similar surge of interest in this topic in the era I study, the eighteenth century, I was struck by parallels and resonances between the projects I was encountering on periodicals in earlier and later eras, especially as they attend to questions of authority, canonicity, the means of textual production, and other questions central to feminist literary scholarship. Periodicals obviously are important to the story of female authorship, but also to a broader, richer narrative of women's involvement in the production and consumption of the printed word. One cannot really understand the history of women as editors, for example, without considering their involvement in overseeing the publication of many periodicals; nor, conversely, can the history of this publishing form be told without careful attention to female editors, authors, critics, audiences, printers, and subscribers, let alone to women as objects of both visual and textual representation.
The moment seemed right for Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature to consider how feminist literary history looks when it is refracted through the lens of periodical studies. These articles offer only a sampling of what is a vast and vibrant field of inquiry; indeed, we easily could have published a double issue on this topic, and the list of scholars I would have liked to invite to contribute to such a project has grown quite long over the past year. The decision to focus on periodicals from Britain and the United States also was not one I reached easily. I am certain the field would benefit from more collections that bring together work on periodicals in different countries as well as more studies that individually undertake comparative work. This special topic issue's relatively narrow geographical and linguistic scope is in part a reflection of the submissions we were receiving, although I am glad to say that more recently we have been seeing submissions on [End Page 241] non-Anglophone periodicals. This decision also is the result of—and a necessary concession to—my goal of using the issue to view periodical studies as they intersect with the examination of women's literature over three centuries. Space and language, that is, have been narrowed in deference to a more expansive treatment of time, coming close to encompassing the full history of periodicals since their inception.
However incomplete any assortment of articles on such a vast topic must be, my hope is that this particular collection advances both periodical studies and feminist literary criticism by showing how closely intertwined these two arenas of inquiry are in the long story they tell. From article to article we encounter significant changes—especially in the ongoing enlargement of a mass consumer culture—with important effects on women's history and literature as well as on the circulation and content of periodicals. Much, however, remains almost eerily the same, such as the dynamics surrounding the construction of authorship, the landscape of debate over the roles of women in public discourse, and the basic features of a mass audience's interaction with ephemeral print. Offering some representation of the kinds of work being done right now on periodicals and women, these essays also pose important questions still demanding answers, and they gesture to horizons for new and ongoing work.
Beyond these very brief comments I will not present a review here of the ways in which these essays speak to each other, as Manushag Powell already has delivered such an articulate...